Kachikwu, however, proffered three alternative solutions to pump price increase: getting the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to introduce a modulated foreign exchange rate specifically for importers of the product; giving the marketers significant tax adjustments to enable them to absorb the high cost; and a plural pricing system whereby the NNPC would continue to sell at N145 through its numerous outlets while the marketers are allowed to fix their own price.
In a presentation to the Joint Senate and House Committees on Petroleum Downstream on Thursday, Dr. Kachikwu explained that it was imperative to explore options which would open up the market and allow oil marketers to import petroleum products and complement the ongoing efforts by the NNPC to sustain the sanitization of the products supply and distribution matrix.
The source said that: "The discussion was how to make the fuel available nationwide". The marketers can not import the PMS because of the cost of the crude oil.
But by October past year, the marketer had stopped importing fuel because there was no more subsidy on petrol, stressing that the situation made the burden of importing 100 per cent to fall on the NNPC.
The Minister of State, Petroleum, Mr Ibe Kachikwu, made this known to newsmen after a closed door meeting involving government officials, labour leaders and stakeholders in the oil sector.
This is contrary to claims by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) which had both fingered marketers in the scarcity of fuel which marred the Yuletide celebrations for Nigerians.
On whether such people are really blackmailers as described by President Buhari in his nationwide broadcast, the minister said: "In fact the Chief of Staff instructed that specific names should be put on the table, those who have gone against the rule, done certain things that are against the book should be punished".
He said a committee had been constituted that would meet on Wednesday under the chairmanship of Kachikwu to further go into the details and forestall a recurrence.
He told The Nation that government and marketers were talking and issues being resolved. But by October, marketers completely stopped importing because there no more subsidy. So you can imagine a situation where NNPC was importing in part and marketers were importing in part and then suddenly NNPC begins to import 100%. And this business is a partnership between marketers and NNPC. "I have said nobody sells crude in its form in the world and we have to have the technical capacity to do this".
According to him, the incentives are attractive to those diverting these products because while petrol sales for about N300 in some countries, we are selling at N145, so you can see that they are making huge profits.
Abiodun stated that in the past, marketers were bringing in about 60 per cent, while the NNPC was bringing in between 35 per cent and 40 per cent.
On how close the government is to that lasting solution, the minister responded: "We are going to sit down and find lasting solution".